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Well reduced workload by 36% in its bid to tackle pharmacist stress

Well: C+D's survey data is "really important" for monitoring stress levels
Well: C+D's survey data is "really important" for monitoring stress levels

Well Pharmacy has told C+D it has reduced workload in its branches by 36% over the past three years, as part of its latest strategy to combat pharmacist stress.

Exclusive data from the C+D Salary Survey – presented to England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge last month – revealed that stress among pharmacists rose six percentage points from 2016-18.

Well’s employee engagement manager Sophie Baldock said: “Data provided by research like the C+D survey is really important in monitoring levels of stress in the industry and its impact on pharmacy teams, helping pharmacies to provide better support for colleagues.”

When asked how Well was helping reduce stress among its staff, Ms Baldock said its latest strategy is focused on “taking tasks out of our stores” and “allowing our colleagues to focus on the customer”.

Well has reduced workload by “protecting stores’ available working hours, and reducing the number of additional activities we ask our pharmacy teams to complete”, Ms Baldock said. “We are working hard to improve this even further.”

This strategy is in addition to its “wellbeing programme” – including gym discounts, financial support and education, and offering pharmacists wellbeing sessions in partnership with the charity Pharmacist Support – which the multiple says “is something we are looking to build on in the future”.

Boots has also told C+D it has launched initiatives to tackle stress in its pharmacies, including its own collaboration with Pharmacist Support.

RPS English board chair Sandra Gidley – who passed C+D’s stress data to Keith Ridge – has said the society wants NHS England to fund a pharmacy version of the GP Health Service. Read C+D’s analysis of this service and whether it would be a good fit for pharmacy.

What did C+D’s stress findings show?

A briefing document – compiled by C+D from the past five years of Salary Survey data – revealed that stress levels among UK pharmacists rose six percentage points between 2016 and 2018, from 70% to 74%.

C+D’s document – which you can download here – was presented by RPS English board chair Sandra Gidley to NHS England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Ridge in a meeting on January 10.

The document also highlighted the impact of stress on the public in 2018, with 34% of the 1,067 pharmacists who responded to last year’s survey saying it had the greatest effect on their service to patients.

Stress-related problems affecting readers in 2018 included: trouble sleeping, cited by 43% of pharmacists; depression (27%); drinking more than usual (11%); and suicidal thoughts (6%).

Have you benefited from Well's strategy to reduce workload pressure?

Not Well At all , Retail Management

I am absolutely incensed that this article has been written - the content is absolute bunkum and Mr Nuttall has fed the media with absolute rubbish and needs to step down now not hide behind retirement. This organisation has reduced the hours to front line Staff who are incredible placing more pressure on those left in place to do more - clients are at risk and serious harm is inevitable - they are cutting corners left right and centre - some branches have no hot water - some managers (mainly area and national ) are not capable of managing - conditions are awful and cleanliness of premises is low grade. So perhaps reporters who are fed this garbage need to check facts - they do not give a toss about their Staff only profit and that is really sad - bringing a jeweller in is a really clever move as he will focus on profit  Well you need to restore hours invest in people and stop faffing around telling the media lies and being deceitful - you have some great people start looking after them 

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

Shame on the chemist and druggist even publishing this !

A once proud publication taking the filty lucre then report the truth


Ajai Singh, Community pharmacist

I left pharmacy in 2015 after 4 years at Boots. I now work for a large financial services firm, and can comfortably say that they do more to ensure the wellbeing of their staff than boots ever did. Our overtime levels are monitored, we have additional staff resource for known busy periods, we get more holiday and access to free 24/7 private GPs. In return, staff work harder. 

Utter rubbish....they have reduced staffing levels and expect the rest of the staff to carry on as before...never mind what they now expect from their only have to look at how many areas have no regular pharmacists, never mind locums. Plenty of work if you want rubbish rates

Chris Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Well are moving towards Hub and Spoke and yes reducing dispensing workloads in branches however very much debatable if this will lead to any reductions in stress levels.

Many thousands of Well employees are probably about to see their jobs relocated to central hubs, not just dispensors and delivery drivers but also 2nd pharmacists and relief pharmacists so stress levels certainly not '36% lower' for them.

I expect a very difficult 2-3 years for Well staff including managers expected to oversee these changes and losing valued colleagues.

Still, there's 20% off at the local gym. Thanks Well.

Another Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Well's statement is a complete falsehood in my experience. The last internal employee engagement survey scores imply otherwise.

Tim B, Locum pharmacist

Well insult our intelligence if they think pharmacy staff will fall for that one !! Pure fiction . Of all the companys I have worked for Well is by far the worst . Avoid at all costs . You have been warned 

Ronald Trump, Pharmaceutical Adviser


They are losing pharmacists all over the various regions of the UK and have significant recruitment problems. This is because pharmacists are are not being treated with the professional respect & autonomy they deserve- there is a constant, unrelenting barrage of pressure from management to perform services and increase prescriptions with no thought of the wellbeing of staff etc They expect you do all this with limited staff support and poor working conditions.

What a ridiculous claim that they have 'reduced stress by 36%'. How have you come up with this figure? Even if you were able to get such a quantifiable and meaningfull way to measure stress reduction, how can Well even apply this across their portfolio of branches? Each branch across different regions and divisions of Well has been so different over the last 3 years due to the partial implementation of new digital dispensing systems such as CAPA and Advanced Dispensing- which both failed abysmally! Plus every branch is different- different sizes, different levels of walk-in, repeat, mds and care home prescriptions, different services etc This means the stress level that comes with each branch is different. This is an arbitrary figure and nothing more than a pitiful attempt for Well to try and retain/attract pharmacists.

The truth is, is that Well is currently implementing a new PMR across its stores and also moving towards hub and spoke dispensing. This will result in even more people losing there jobs in pharmacies and less staff support in branches. For Well to release this ludicrous statement on reducing stress levels just before it embarks on a period of great change in its pharmacies over the next few years, IMO is deceptive and misleading.


Leon The Apothecary, Student

I'd like to add when they decided to cut staffing hours in their pilot stores by 50%. That's a massive amount to cut, and resulted in a large number of people deciding, quite rightly in my opinion, to look for different employment.

In my opinion, Well is only focused on becoming the next Pharmacy2U, and their latest nomination figures on  NHS Digital are reflective of this.

PRIMARY CARE PHARMACIST, Primary care pharmacist

My one day a week in community pharmacy has become more stressful than the rest of the week put together. The staff and manager are stressed and overworked too. The once happy family is starting to fracture. Welcome to anxiety, hypertension and relationship breakdowns. 

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

 “taking tasks out of our stores” 


“protecting stores’ available working hours, and reducing the number of additional activities we ask our pharmacy teams to complete”

It would be great if they can specify EXACTLY what are these roles and how they are now being handeled out of the stores. Let the readers decide if that is correct.

Otherwise, this article is more of an advert for Well !!

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